A Little Catch Up

For the first time in almost 7 years, I let my blogging lapse. It’s been a little over 3 months since I last visited this space or even had a thought to begin writing. I’ve actually enjoyed the break and there might be more in the future. I’ve also found that since starting a personal Instagram account that is separate from my business, I’m sharing a lot more over in that space which has kind of almost replaced blogging. I don’t have the energy to write anything in-depth, so I thought a little bullet point update would suffice.

  • The house. Oh this house! We’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since moving in. The previous owners opted to not clean…ever, so we had a pretty gross situation on our hands after we closed. It took me a solid week of scrubbing + professional cleaners to finally get to a point where I’d walk on the floors barefoot. Immediately upon buying this house, things began breaking: air conditioning, pipes, sewer lines, electrical system, toilets. You name it, it broke. In the midst of that, we decided to do a little updating too. Hey, if you’re already sinking gobs of money into repairs, why not just keep your wallet open and do a few fun things too?! So we installed hardwood floors, solar tubes and redid most of the kitchen. And now we are officially done. Done with updates and hopefully done with repairs. At least for now 🙂

    To be honest, I haven’t been in town enough for this place to feel like home yet. It feels like a wonderful place to lay my head, but it doesn’t feel like home. I hope that changes in the months to come because I really do love it and I’m very thankful to be here, even if it’s only for a few days at a time.

     

  • Bahamas! We went to the Bahamas for a week to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a decade! We had to wait until after closing to make any travel plans so as to not throw off bank account numbers for the underwriting of the loan. So with 3 weeks so spare, we made a last minute decision to go to the Bahamas. We stayed on the island of Great Exuma, which is a smaller and quieter island compared to Nassau or Paradise Island. Our hotel was great, the beach was gorgeous and it was a great way for us to decompress and reconnect. We didn’t do much other than hang at the beach, read, drink pina coladas, golf and enjoy yummy food all week.

    Everyone kept asking us if we were on our honeymoon which always made us laugh. Either we’re aging well or we act like newlyweds…or both! 🙂

     

  • Photography insanity. With fall came 21 weddings and elopements for my company to photograph. They were all over the state so consequently every week I was traveling and running from one place to the next. The leaves here in Colorado are just gorgeous in the fall and I have a lot of out of state clients who travel here to take advantage of the beauty. Our window is pretty small for how long the leaves stick around so I wound up packing in as many weddings as possible. One week we had 8 weddings in 7 days. Bananas. It was beautiful but oh-so exhausting. I’m actually pretty mad at myself for allowing things to get so crazy. I live an intentionally slow life with a lot of breathing room and margin, so to take on this much work is really not my norm. I think it was a combination of needing money for the house, trying to prove that “I’m back” after taking most of last year off due to surgery, and pride. Bad combo. Lesson learned.

     

  • My heart. As life is slowing down, I’m starting to get a handle on my emotions, my heart, the pace of my life and my focus. This has been a hard year with David’s health, coming to terms with life after brain surgery, family problems, selling our dream house, living 8 months in a basement, moving to a new town and a new church. My emotions went wild for a few months, dipping to the lowest of lows as depression returned. David was right there with me for a while at the bottom. We hung out there for many months, looking for hope, looking for reasons to keep going.

    Now that we are in our own space again and the cloud has lifted a little I can feel my heart settling, calming, lifting. It’s tempting to say that I’m “returning to normal” but the thing is, there’s no returning to anything. Things are different now. So much has happened in the last 2 years (err, 7?) to shake up my normal that there’s really nothing left to return to. Now it’s about pressing forward.

  •  School. Fall semester at Denver Seminary started at the end of August, right when the pace of my photography picked up dramatically. At the last second, I switched to an on-line class taught by one of the professors who founded my Christian Formation & Soul care program. I couldn’t pass up learning from him! Studying on-line this semester has been helpful since I just don’t have the time to drive to campus each week but it’s also hard in that you don’t have an opportunity to really interact with people in a classroom. I am looking forward to the rest of the semester because we’re going to make use of some video conferencing and I’ll finally have time to focus.

I guess that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll write sooner than 3 months from now. Or maybe not! We’ll just see how the Spirit moves 🙂

Warming Up

We have been living with my in-laws since January, when we sold our previous home. It’s been a really hard 6 months. Absolutely nothing has seemed to go our way in these few months. So when we went under contract on this house, I had a very hard time believing something wouldn’t go wrong. The seller is a bit odd- he’s very unpredictable, a little unethical, he lies and I think he has a touch of dementia as well. Not a great combo. Each week that went by, I held my breath for The Big Let-Down. News that he decided to keep the house or that he wants to renegotiate to a higher price. News that there were structural issues or that the house didn’t appraise and the deal would fall through.

I realize how impossibly pessimistic that sounds. I’m quite aware of how far I’ve fallen from my previously endlessly-hopeful self. But I think that is starting to change.

We are now 2 days away from closing and the seller has officially moved out. I went over to the house yesterday to try and match flooring samples. I had a key and I let myself in (with his permission of course). And there it was. This beautiful, empty home sitting before me. A home we have prayed for. A home that made me cry when I first walked in. A home we have agonized over. A home we almost lost to a higher bid. It’s lovely really. And in 48 hours it will be ours, Lord willing. I stood in the doorway and let it sink in a little bit. This house, this wonderful, quirky house is about to be ours.

For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to warm up to the idea that maybe the winds are shifting. Maybe a stream of good luck and God’s favor is coming our way. Maybe things are going to be less hard. Or maybe not, but at least we’ll have a cute house to weather the storms in haha! 🙂

I would love for this house to represent a new chapter in our life. I don’t want to walk into it with armfuls of baggage. I’d like to carefully store those bags in the garage and walk into the house with a fresh sense of hope and a renewed perspective on life. If our old house represented the ICU ward of a hospital where we recovered (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) from the wounds of life, then I want this home to represent a retreat center.  A place of restoration, refreshment, relaxation, healing, inspiration, peace and wholeness.

And as I stood in the empty spaces of what will hopefully soon be ours, I was overwhelmed by the possibility of what could be as I picture us enjoying summer evenings on the patio and snuggling around the fireplace at Christmas. I finally let down my guard and allowed myself to indulge in the possibility that this house will be a place of comfort for us. It is evidence that perhaps the seas of life are getting a bit calmer.

Picture time! This was the first time I have ever been in the house alone. The first time where the seller wasn’t sitting around in his pajamas eating food and brushing crumbs everywhere (this was a For Sale By Owner situation, so he didn’t play by any of the traditional real estate rules like leaving the home for a showing or not getting in a fight with the inspector etc). The first time where I haven’t been distracted by his incessant talking to actually have a solid look around. The first time I’ve seen it empty.

Photo Jul 12, 2 36 04 PM
Looking down from the loft onto the main great room. Yes, that is shiplap you spy above the fireplace 🙂
Photo Jul 12, 2 38 18 PM
The master bathroom and closet have these gorgeous tiles with radiant heating underneath. That is going to feel so good in the winter!
Photo Jul 08, 3 00 09 PM
Our seller ripped out brand new white carpet and installed  navy carpet (with polka dots!) in the lower level of the home.  We want to replace that (obviously) and do hardwood. The wood in the rest of the entire house is solid strand bamboo and it is in fabulous shape. My attempts to match hardwood have been fun. In the 3 years since the initial wood was laid, the stains have changed ever so slightly and now nothing is a perfect match. I stalked  was able to get in touch with the prior owners and she graciously told me where they purchased the wood from so I think I’m getting closer to a good match. And if it’s not perfect, that’s ok too!

Photo Jul 12, 2 25 56 PM
Our precious patio. This spot sealed the deal on my love for this house!

Photo Jul 06, 5 28 42 PMI’ve been staring at various shades of white paint for a long time. I’d like to find one with just a subtle undertone of grey which would contrast well with bright white trim/fireplace/doors/kitchen cabinets. There’s not a ton of natural light in the house so anything we can do to brighten things up will help, like skylights and solar tubes (getting an estimate on those next week!).

We have our closing set at 11am on Friday, then we’ll grab lunch to celebrate before a few contractors come by for bids on flooring install and random jobs to be done. Our POD is scheduled to be delivered on Saturday. Can we just talk about what a huge surprise opening that thing is going to be?! David and I were in the hospital when the movers packed it and it was carried away, so I never supervised any of the moving process. To be honest, I still don’t know where our POD is being stored. All I know is that we will see it soon. It should be fun to rediscover our stuff after almost 7 months! Thank you Jesus that the end of our nomadic basement-dwelling life is near and that we are about to have a space of our own again. This is going to be a good good good weekend!

 

Meetup Success!

Well, I did it. I hosted my very first Meetup for women without children in my town. I was so afraid going in. Afraid no one would show up. Afraid I would say something presumptuous or embarrassing. Afraid of awkward silence. Afraid that maybe God is just determined to keep me isolated from anyone else who might have circumstances that resembles my own.

Honestly, it turned out better than I could have imagined.

I went into that restaurant not knowing a single woman without children, and I left with 5 new friends who share a common bond with me. We sat down at the table and all breathed a collective sigh of relief that we were in a safe place. You could just see it in some of their eyes…the joy of finding a whole table of people who just “get it.” The contentment of knowing there would be an entire dinner conversation without mention of breastfeeding, nap time, soccer schedules or some other trigger. Sweet relief.

I dare not assume that all of these women are in my boat. I honestly don’t know their stories yet. My guess is that most of our boats are so unique that there is only room for 1 person to row. But we each managed to drift our rafts into the same radius of calm water on a clear evening, close enough to wave to each other and chat. Thankfully, everyone was pretty darn normal (relatively speaking, ha!). We all knew how to converse well, ask good questions, laugh at each other’s jokes, share stories, attentively listen and not overshare (tempting though, isn’t it? The second I met them, I wanted to just gush my entire life story). It was just a fun, simple evening getting to know one another over chocolate. Yes, chocolate. The restaurant we went to specializes in chocolate; chocolate martinis, chocolate ravioli, truffles, soufflés, pie…chocolate everything. And it was fa-bu-lous!Photo Jun 07, 6 05 11 PM

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve had over 30 women sign up for this group. Many of them emailed me to say thank you for creating a space where they can meet others like them. One of the members even took the initiative to help me schedule a future meetup in 2 weeks: dinner at a local food truck rally! There is talk of brunch and evening hikes too as the year goes on. Fun!

So all in all, I have to say it was a surprising success and I am so thankful I had the guts to go out on a limb. I learned that there are indeed others out there who are like me. We may not share the same path, the same beliefs, direction in life or worldview. But we have a common bond over something that is markedly absent in our lives. And sometimes, it just feels good to know you’re not alone.

 

2014: Looking Back

14 has always been my favorite number, so it’s no surprise that 2014 was one of my favorite years.

This year was gooooooood. Sure, there were a few hard things thrown in the mix (hello broken bone inside of my head) but no year is going to be flawless. I’m just grateful to have a year go by that wasn’t characterized by job loss, baby loss, heartache and disappointment. It’s been a while since we had a year that wasn’t really hard. We are standing in celebration over how this year turned out. It felt like we were finally able to breathe and actually enjoy life a little bit (ok, we enjoyed it a lot!).

I think the word Discovery accurately sums up the theme of 2014. Self-discovery, professional-discovery, rediscovering joy. I discovered new hikes and trails, parks and areas around this beautiful county of ours. It was a year of discovering some of God’s most beautiful blessings as I learned more about who I am in Christ.

Travel was a big theme of this year. I think we traveled more this year than any other year in our 12 years together! A few of the places we went to: Steamboat Springs, Mexico City, Zion, Charlotte, Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Wyoming, Grand Cayman, Telluride, Estes Park, Arizona/Utah and countless little weekend backpacking/hiking/camping trips in between. I counted and I think we were gone 30 weekends out of the year. We saw so much, experienced so much. And our lives feel richer because of it. Not only does travel bring us closer but it deepens our appreciation for pretty much everything.

Another big piece of this year was me making a big business decision and deciding to photograph elopements! I said goodbye to big weddings and welcomed these sweet little intimate ceremonies with open arms. I photographed 30 elopements this year and I can honestly say I’ve never been more creatively fulfilled and happy in the 8 years I’ve been doing this professional photography thing. It’s like a whole new world has opened up to me! I also discovered a dormant desire in my heart…landscape photography! I’m soooo excited to see where this goes in 2015! I feel like I’m rediscovering photography all over again.

This year was full of baby steps in my Wild Goose Chase. I pointed myself in the direction I felt He was calling me to. I got over some fear of counseling began doing some spiritual/weight loss coaching for a Christian ministry.  I’m absolutely blown away by how God is using my journey to help others become free from the bondage of weight and disordered thoughts about food. For the first time, I feel like I’m walking in His will and living out part of my calling. It’s beautiful.

2014 also marked the beginning of a journey out of the thick, dark and dense forest of infertility. I’ve slowly begun to peek my head out of the trees as I discern who I am apart from the last 5 years. It’s interesting how my identity got gobbled up by the pursuit of motherhood. I’m discovering what life in the aftermath of infertility feels like. It’s an interesting and solitary road to walk. But I’m slowly learning to navigate it. No doubt this journey will continue into 2015 and beyond.

Mostly I’m just grateful for a good year. Finally! I’m excited to see how the things I discovered in 2014 turn into things that I embrace in 2015.

2012 Blessings

2012 has been hard. It would be so easy to say “2012 was awful. The end.” and just move on.  But I would be cheating myself out of remembering some of the sweet moments from this year. Despite the difficulties, my life is blessed. I want to remember some of the offbeat, simple moments that helped get me through this year.

  • Telluride is definitely one of my favorite things about 2012. It was a perfect escape for David and I after my surgery and the chaos that surrounded my ectopic pregnancy. It was a peaceful weekend full of good food, deep conversations, pretty pictures, breathtaking sunsets, gondola rides and healing. Telluride is what put me on the road towards healing. It’s the place that restored some peace to my heart and brought David and I closer than ever. That and it’s incredible beautiful there! The entire area stole my heart!
  • My family was incredible this year. They have been so so so supportive, I don’t know what we’d do without them! David and I were able to spend so much quality time with them, from Broncos games to impromptu dinners to shopping trips with my sis. There is nothing more important to us than our families and it makes my heart happy that they all live within 60 minutes of our home. One of my favorite moments was watching a marathon of Keeping Up with the Kardashians with my sister all afternoon shortly after my surgery. Jenny, David and I dozed in and out of naps while lounging on the couch, eating Sour Patch Kids and laughing at the ridiculousness that is the Kardashian family. It’s the little moments like that that make my heart happy.
  • Pinterest was one of my saving graces this year. Who knew a little website could turn all my frowns upside down? From finding new recipes and inspiring quotes to adorable pictures of baby animals, Pinterest helped brighten my darkest days. How can you not smile at this?
    • I got pregnant….It’s absolutely bizarre being able to say that after 3 years of not getting pregnant. And although the outcome was not what we had hoped, I still have a lot of joy just knowing that it is indeed possible for me to get pregnant. Sure, it might take another 3 years, but at least I know it’s possible and I’m going to cling to that as we move into 2013. What a blessing that little piece of knowledge is after such a long time of not knowing if it could even happen. 
    • Ride the Rockies definitely sticks out as a highlight! It was the last “fun” thing that we did before the chaos of me having 2 jobs ensued. We had the most amazing week traveling around Colorado. It was such a whirlwind of craziness. I am so stinking proud of David for finishing the entire thing and I’m so happy I was able to be his sherpa for the week. 🙂
    • David and I gained a lot of perspective this year. A lot. Every turn we took, there was a lesson waiting to be learned. We learned a lot this year about each other, about living simply, about God’s provision and being appreciative for little things. We gained perspective on grief, faith, healing, hope, balancing life with work, and setting priorities. I’m not saying we’ve acted on all of this perspective (helloooo 60 hour work week that I’m still occasionally working), but we have at least had our eyes opened and our thinking challenged.
    • My 2 jobs have been such a blessing! It has been incredibly difficult to balance both jobs, but I’m doing it! It has been a huge financial blessing to us…it helped us pay off hospital bills, helped us afford IUIs, medication and it helped us build our savings back up. My coworkers are a blessing, my boss is a blessing and I am grateful for the ability to work, especially when so many in our country are still looking for work. To be honest, I’m just proud of myself for being able to take all this on and still stay sane…(kind of) 😉
    • And there are all the little blessings in between, like my sister getting engaged (probably my favorite 2012 highlight!), finishing up some decorating projects and painting projects, joining an incredible women’s Bible study, a girls trip to Steamboat Springs, finding love for photography again, discovering Birchbox, turning 30,  and a handful of beautiful backpacking trips in the mountains. 

    No, 2012 was not what I hoped it would be. But it wasn’t all bad either. I love silver linings and this year was full of them. Next to every difficult moment was a blessing. In every bad day, there was still laughter and love. Hard as it was, I am thankful for 2012! 🙂

    S’morekies

    The longer we camp, the more adventurous we get with our food options. It used to be hot dogs and s’mores. The end. Maybe if I was feeling crazy we’d have potato chips as well. But we’ve since evolved our camping cuisine and last week we hit an all time home run.

    I baked chocolate chip cookies before we left for our anniversary trip. I also got all the standard s’more stuff. It took me a solid 8 days before it dawned on me to combine the two. Enter, the S’morekie. I’ve outlined detailed instructions for creating such a complicated dessert. =)

    1) Get 2 cookies & a marshmallow

     2)Toast your marshmallow

     3) Accidentally burn your marshmallow because you were distracted by your husband taking so many pictures of you

     3) Make your husband eat the burned marshmallow =)

     4) Repeat step 2! This time, don’t burn the marshmallow!

     5) Put the marshmallow between the 2 cookies

     6) Blissful surprise at the deliciousness you’re tasting

     

    Viola! That’s all there is to it. I know, I know, my culinary expertise is a thing to behold. =) David decided to get crazy with his s’mores and use a Reese’s cup instead of plain chocolate. It looked yummy!

     And I think it’s pretty clear that he enjoyed it….=)

    Perfect Weekend…

    I had a really busy week! I had stuff going on every day, from a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner I photographed, to a wedding to lots of album designing and editing!  David and I had talked a little bit about going camping this weekend, but I kept putting off planning for it since I was so busy. Before I knew it, it was Friday…….and I had no clue where we were camping. Whoops!

    I finally came up with 3 different spots we could go, all in the same area. The first was a busy campground, the second was dispersed camping in National Forest and the third was a trail that had established backpacking camping sites. Any of them would have been a great place to spend the weekend!

    I frantically went to the store and bought food, packed up the car, scribbled out directions and picked David up from work to head to the hills.

    What a blessing that our second option, dispersed camping in National Forest, turned out to be. We found the most amaaaaazing camp site in a meadow, right next to a beautiful lake. There were wildflowers everywhere, it was quiet, peaceful, wonderful.

    We had absolutely no agenda for the weekend (which is kind of rare, considering David’s insatiable desire to summit mountains!). We spent our time sitting beside a beautiful lake, sleeping in, enjoying the sunshine, reading, watching for wildlife (we saw a huge bull moose this morning!), grilling yummy food over the fire, having great conversation and going on pretty nature walks. It was probably my all time favorite camping trip so far! That’s saying a lot because we’ve been on countless camping trips to many amazing places, but this one was absolute perfection in every way. I just loved it!

    I came home feeling relaxed, refreshed, and more in love with my husband than ever. What a great weekend!

     David fishing in the lake

     Wildflowers everywhere!

     If you look really really hard, you can see the moose!
    We went on a pretty hike today and had to turn around due to some major snow that was too deep to cross. So we sat by a mountain stream and ate trail mix instead. Not a bad alternative!